Walmart: $2 gets you a digital copy of a DVD or Blu-ray you already own

In order to allow consumers the ability to digitize their DVDs and Blu-rays, Walmart and the UltraViolet Digital Rights Management (DRM) system have combined to offer a Vudu pay-service.

The movie studios behind UltraViolet – Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal and Warner Bros – have decreed that movie watchers cannot burn copies of their own DVDs to play on more than one device, like iPods that use digital copies. But they can pay more.

Their solution is that they will graciously allow owners of a DVD or Blu-ray to walk into Walmart Photo Center and pay $2 to have each DVD or Blu-ray converted to a digital version, or $5 to upgrade a standard-definition disc to an HD digital version . . . the Vudu-facilitated digital copy of the movie will be stored in their account with Vudu.

The fee is a marginally small amount of money. But for all of the educators, students, and ordinary consumers that have had to illegally unlock the DRM security to either burn more copies of movie discs they already own or to make a digital copy of one, any fee on top of the price of the movie is too high.

Vudu provides the digitals, and the movie studios are hoping that despite the consumers already having the movies that the demand will remain high. This Vudu service could provide the excuse that the movie studios need to support the on-going ban on allowing consumers to make a copy of something they already own. Such assistance could prove invaluable to the new initiative, which has already seen support this year from Amazon and Flixster. Analysts believe the platform has garnered over 800,000 active accounts with more than one million digital copy-enabled discs sold since its October launch.

There are many DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that offer free digital copies with their movies, and almost all of them have expiration dates that can easily erase the feature.

As you dust off the legitimately purchased Blu-ray and digital copy of The Dark Knight and then attempt to redeem it on your laptop, you could find that the code no longer works, and there is but one choice: go to Walmart and pay two bucks more?